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Louisiana Republican Primary Preview

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Republican primaries return to the Deep South with a contest in Louisiana on Saturday. After his convincing win in Illinois, Mitt Romney has recaptured the momentum in the race. Rick Santorum hopes a return to the south will rekindle his winning ways, while Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul continue to hold on, fighting for every vote they can get. Here's what you need to know in the Louisiana primary:

* Louisiana has 46 delegates to the Republican National Convention. This puts the Pelican State on par with Alabama (50), Virginia (49) and Indiana (46).

* Only 20 of the state's delegates are bound by the voting results. Every candidate with at least 25 percent of the statewide vote receives a proportional number of delegates. In the event no candidate breaks the threshold, all 20 delegates go to the national convention unpledged.

* Twenty-three of the remaining delegates are elected at the Louisiana State Republican Convention in June. Three are elected from each of the state's six congressional districts and five are elected at-large. These delegates are officially uncommitted at the Republican National Convention.

* The last three delegates are state party leaders and attend the convention unpledged.

* Louisiana uses a closed primary system. Only registered voters of the Democratic or Republican parties can vote in their party primary. Unregistered voters may vote in local races only.

* The early voting period was from March 10-17. Absentee ballots are due by 4:30pm on Election Day, except for voters living outside the country, military personnel and hospitalized voters, who have until 8 p.m.

* According to polling data aggregated by RealClearPolitics.com, Santorum has reason to be optimistic. He has an average lead of almost 10 points over frontrunner Mitt Romney.

* The most recent Rasmussen poll, taken on March 21, puts Santorum ahead 43 percent to 31 percent. Gingrich had 16 percent and Paul 5 percent.

* Another poll by Magellan Strategies found Santorum with a similar lead over Romney, 37 percent to 24 percent. Gingrich fared better with 21 percent support, while Paul had only 3 percent.

* Romney hasn't had the lead in any Louisiana polls since last year, and Santorum wasn't part of that poll. If these polling numbers bear out, Santorum and Romney will split the 20 delegates, with more going to Santorum. But if Romney fails to make the 25 percent threshold, Santorum wins them all.

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